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Online Learning: Know Your Terminology

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    Online Learning: Know Your Terminology

    Boy with brown hair writing on a piece of paper with teacher

    There’s a first time for everything, and that includes cyber learning. Any time you enter a new world, there’s a new language to learn, full of buzzwords and strange terms.

    Families that make the choice to do what’s best for their children and enroll in a cyber charter school are going to hear some unfamiliar phrases, but it doesn’t take long to understand all those online learning terms. With help from this online learning glossary, parents and kids can become real pros at communicating with teachers, classmates and other families enjoying the flexibility and personalized education of online learning.

    The Rise of Online Education

    Even before the pandemic year of 2020, online education was on the rise. When COVID-19 pushed learning directly into millions of homes nationwide, families and their children’s teachers discovered the wonders of online learning. Of course, families wondered, “What is the definition of ‘online learning’?” As they looked into it and learned more about it, they realized that online learning is uniquely suited to the digital age in which today’s children were born. 

    In short, they now understand that education content may be the same, but the way we address it is not. Instructors and learners alike are finding that cyber school delivers a rich learning experience, without the encumbrances of brick-and-mortar schools.

    The advantages of online learning include:

    • Personalized learning: Every student is a bundle of interests, strengths and learning challenges. Cyber school makes learning engaging for both instructors and learners, by tapping into those passions and needs. 
    • Self-pacing: Cyber schools can deliver lessons that keep pace with each student. Some kids need to move quickly, with lots of extra enrichment to keep their attention. Others need time to absorb each concept, maybe even watching videos of the teacher giving a lesson, before moving to the next. Online teachers have the freedom to customize lessons to the full range of learning styles they see among their students.
    • Safety: Traditional schools are havens for bullies, disruptive kids and festering grudges. Children who learn from home have a respite from the drama, while their teachers have greater control to keep distractions at bay. 
    • Flexibility: Families love cyber school for the flexibility that suits their lifestyles. Children are free to pursue their passions or to keep pace with learning while they deal with medical conditions. Families can travel or commit to serving their faith or their community. Lessons can be reviewed and coursework completed according to the family’s timeline, not the school’s. 

    To get the most from all these benefits, instructors and learners need to know the vocabulary related to online learning. That way, they can have rich conversations with each other about capitalizing on all the advantages that cyber school offers.

    Key Online Learning Terminology

    With its basis in technology, online learning uses a lot of 21st century terminology. It’s easy for families enrolled in cyber school to catch up on these terms.

    • Videoconferencing: Zoom. Google Meet. FaceTime. Chances are, you already use videoconferencing. It’s a virtual way to see faces while having productive conversations — without the time needed to travel for a meeting. 
    • Online classrooms: Cyber learning brings together children who are separated by geography. Teachers provide instruction to the group and guide students through videos and other online resources, while students have plenty of chances to ask questions and help each other understand new concepts. 
    • Distance learning: Separation by the miles doesn’t keep learning from flowing from teacher to learner. Distance learning equips students to learn lessons from the best teachers, no matter how far apart they are. 
    • Mobile learning: The portability of smartphones, laptops, tablets and other devices empowers on-the-go learning. For online learners, mobile learning provides the freedom to pick up a laptop and move it around the house, to athletic tournaments or dance classes, or around the globe on world travels — all without losing connections to teachers and the week’s lessons. 
    • Blended learning: Technology now allows online learning to work in combination with traditional classroom or face-to-face learning. Although blended learning has long been in use to give schools and families more flexibility in education, the pandemic brought it to the forefront as a tool used by schools across the nation. 
    • Computer-based learning: This is the umbrella term for any kind of learning delivered via computer. It could be a teacher giving lessons to an online classroom (See? You’re catching on already.) It could be a virtual reality program that safely trains a soldier in storming an enemy hideout. It could be a program that helps children with disabilities communicate questions that help them comprehend their lessons.  
    • Cookie: Chances are, you accept cookies every day, but unfortunately — or luckily, depending on your perspective — they aren’t the chocolate chip kind. Computer cookies help websites track your visits and activities. They keep you linked to those sites you use regularly — for instance, keeping your shopping cart stocked with the items you want even if you leave the site to comparison price-shop. If you allow them, cookies can remember your passwords to frequently visited sites so you don’t have to look them up all the time. 
    • Connect time: This is the amount of time a computer user spends connected to a network such as the internet.  
    • Discussion board: Wouldn’t it be great if your child could swap ideas with friends and do things with peers who share their interests, no matter where all those kids are? Discussion boards make it happen, allowing cyber students to reach out to each other on shared platforms where they can post their thoughts and interact with others.  
    • Webinar: Technology gave in-person seminars a facelift to webinars. Experts share information and findings on specific topics while viewers follow along. Live webinars allow viewers to submit questions and comments. Because webinars are usually taped and kept available online, viewers who missed the live presentation can catch up later.  
    • Learning management system: An LMS is at the heart of online learning, allowing families to manage the entire experience. Families and students can view class schedules, track and submit assignments, schedule field trips and communicate with teachers. CCA created edio, its own powerful, user-friendly LMS, to ensure families a simple and effective way to keep kids on track.  In fact, as these networks become more powerfully integrated with all segments of the school experience, learning management systems like edio can be classified as relationship management systems.
    • Synchronous learning: Synchronous means “occurring at the same time.” In traditional schools, classroom lessons are synchronous because the teacher teaches and students learn in synch with each other. Online, synchronous learning means the same thing — that teachers and students are engaging in real time, even though the connection is virtual. 
    • Asynchronous learning: Now that you know what synchronous learning is, here is its opposite. Asynchronous learning happens when instructor and learners are separated by time as well as distance. Asynchronous learning gives students the flexibility to catch up on lessons according to their own schedules, and the power to fully comprehend a new concept by reviewing a previously taped lesson at the student’s preferred pace.

    What to Know About CCA Online Learning Resources

    Transitions are rarely easy, but CCA is dedicated to providing families all the help needed to make the change to online learning. After all, our families made the choice to take the schooling of their children into their own hands, and that deserves more than just a pat on the back. 

    CCA offers a full body of resources and supports so that students and families can spend less time memorizing online learning definitions and more time engaging in education. It’s a teamwork-based approach that includes:

    • Family involvement coordinators: You have questions. Your family involvement coordinator has answers. CCA’s FICs, as they’re known, are based throughout Pennsylvania, so they’re equipped to find help that’s in your own area.
    • Family mentors: Experienced parents know what new parents are experiencing. CCA’s family mentors are veteran parents assigned to new families. They’re available year round to talk about how to make family life fit with online learning. 
    • Family Service Centers: At CCA’s more than a dozen Family Service Centers across Pennsylvania, teachers conduct their virtual classes and regularly host activities and events. Parents and students can stop by for in-person help or to meet administrators and guidance counselors.

    Online Learning at Commonwealth Charter Academy

    By now, you probably realize that you understand more about online learning than you think. To your child, virtual learning is perfectly natural. Plus, powerful technology ensures your child a rich, personalized, student-driven learning experience. Put it all together, and you have the chance to change your child’s learning for the better. Contact us today to learn more about how you can capture the advantages of the education revolution through online learning with CCA.


    Commonwealth Charter Academy


    April 13th, 2021


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